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Communications Critical Integrating Element Anchoring Major Office Automation Strategies.

Communications continues to consolidate its position as the critical integrating element in both user and vendor office automation strategies. Firms like Xerox, Wang and Datapoint base much of their strategies on their local area networks, while mainframes Digital Equipment and IBM extend their network architectures to accommodate local as well as wide-area communications. Likewise, minicomputer suppliers Data General and Hewlett-Packard are building on their communications strengths and introducing gateways to other vendors' systems to expedite the flow of information throughout an organization at the individual, departmental and corporate levels.

Xerox installed hundreds more of its Ethernet local area networks during 1983 and expects to install many more hundreds this year. Industry estimates put the number of installed Ethernet networks from Xerox and all other vendors at well over 5,000 worldwide. More than 20 Xerox products now operate on Ethernet, providing users with the means to link them into a single, integrated office system.

About 20 percent of the electronic typewriters sold in the United States during 1983 were Xerox Memorywriters. Xerox considers this product an important element in its office automation strategy and believes it will be an important profit contributor during the 1980s. Xerox has also made a number of hardware and software enhancements to its 8010 Star workstation, including the introduction of remote and stand-alone versions, price reductions, multi-lingual capability and a multi-function server to handle printing, filing and electronic mail.

Expanding on its WangNet broadband local area network, Wang Labs recently announced additional elements of its communications strategy for office automation. One of the major innovations is Wang Systems Networking (WSN), a set of communications products linking Wang systems and providing gateways to other vendor environments. By following the layered architecture of the Open Systems Interconnection reference model developed by the International Standards Organization, the WSN products allow Wang systems to exchange information over local and wide area, host-controlled and public data networks.

According to Frederick A. Wang, executive vice president and chief development officer, the four basic principles of WSN are integration, flexibility, compatibility and simplicity. He describes WSN as a "single framework linking past, present and future networking products, consistent with our goals of increasing systems integration and network transparency."

The Lowell, Massachusetts firm has also broadened its office automation strategy with the introduction of Wang Office, a series of network-based software applications for Wang systems that provide time and task management, communications and information management tools; and the Wang PIC Professional Image Computer, which utilizes a camera to scan images from a document. Once digitized, the images can be displayed, stored, retrieved, altered, merged with text and transmitted to other systems. Finally, Wang has enhanced its DVX voice messaging system with networking capabilities and software that can disseminate prerecorded information to callers both within and outside a user company.

Like Xerox and Wang, Datapoint builds its office automation strategy around a local area network, ARCnet, which is a baseband token-passing network that operates at speeds to 2.5 Mbps. Datapoint claims an installed base of over 5,000 ARCnets. According to Michael Gallup, vice president, product marketing, ten other vendors are buying ARCnet chips from Standard Microsystems of Hauppauge, New York, to incorporate into their product offerings. One of them, Nestar is utilizing ARCnet to interconnect IBM machines.

In February, Datapoint introduced an office automation software package called Pro-Vista, which includes a unique user interface and adds an electronic mail system and enhanced word processing to workstations running Version II of the Datapoint Resource Management System (RMS) operating system. According to Datapoint's Gallup, Pro-Vista is the first of a series of products that the San Antonio, Texas firm will introduce during the next six months aimed at integrating personal computing at the individual level with a departmental local network and links to corporate mainframes.

Digital Equipment also views communications as the cornerstone of its office automation strategy. In announcing its strategy two years ago, Digital used an "E" to illustrate the way it sees corporate information structures: the horizontal legs represent functions at the personal, departmental and corporate level, while the vertical leg symbolizes the communications needed to provide access to information across all levels.

Digital supports this strategy with a variety of workstations and an integrated menu-based software package, the All-in-1 office and information system. All-in-1 offers generic functions like word processing along with job-specific functions such as sales analysis, while at the same time providing a common interface among personal, departmental and corporate functions. As for communications, Digital supports Xerox's Ethernet local network, interfacing with DECnet for wide area communications. Digital is also working with Northern Telecom and others at standardizing the Computer-to-PBX interface, with a pricing goal of $300/line.

Last December, Digital introduced two communications software products that link its VAX systems and All-in-1 to Wang's OIS system and to IBM and other 3270-type terminals. Subsequently, Digital announced its intention to develop an interface between VAX/All-in-1 and IBM's Distributed Office Support System (Disoss). Digital also made a break-through in voice communications by unveiling a voice synthesis unit, DECtalk, which allows computers to read aloud in a family of voices with unlimited vocabulary. Digital believes DECtalk's greatest significance may lie in its ability to read text over the telephone, effectively turning it into a computer terminal. Digital says it is committed to bringing its voice technology to the office, allowing business users to access electronic mail through Touch-Tone telephones from anywhere in the world.

IBM has yet to unveil its much-heralded local area network, and we are still awaiting the results of its union with digital PBX pioneer Rolm. However, IBM has significantly expanded its office communications capabilities with two supplementary architectures to SNA for the office environment: Document Content Architecture (DCA) provides the ground rules for describing the internal structure of information for document distribution and similar applications; Document Interchange Architecture (DIA) provides the rules for functions such as distributing, filing and retrieving information. In effect, DIA is the envelope which helps ensure that a message reaches its destination, while DCA takes care of the content of the letter or memo. In this analogy, SNA would be the mailman.

In addition, IBM significantly expanded the capability for distributing documents among its individual office systems with a new version of Disoss. At the same time, IBM enhanced its other central computer software for document distribution, the Professional Office System (Profs). IBM has also announced its intention to link the two systems so that Disoss and Profs users can interchange documents.

Even so, the developments causing the greatest stir have centered around the succession of IBM Personal Computer offerings and the third-party software products that are making the PC such a popular office workstation. Last October, IBM unveiled a new version of its PC that gives users simultaneous "windows" into multiple host computer applications. Called the IBM 3270 PC, the desktop unit can display seven windows in all, four with data from host computer applications, two electronic notepads and one personal computing session. Each window can be made larger or smaller by the user, who can work with the data in any one of them and move easily from one to another. IBM also debuted the XT/370 Personal Computer, which allows programmers, engineers, scientists and business professionals to run, unchanged, most Virtual Machine/Conversational Monitor System (VM/CMS) application programs at their desks.

More recently, IBM introduced a portable version of its PC, and a new system called the "Personal Computer Cluster Program," which enables up to 64 PC products, including PCjunior to communicate with one another as well as share printers and other peripherals. It also announced an "image view" capability for the 3270-PC, which allows users to view images of original documents such as signed letters, insurance application forms or line drawings on their PC screens.

Among minicomputer suppliers, Data General and Hewlett-Packard continue to innovate with their office automation offerings. Data General claims its Comprehensive Electronic Office (CEO) system is the first to offer portable hard-copy terminal access, telex capability and an integrated typesetting function. The Westboro, Massachusetts firm has also announced a document interchange facility developed with the United States Navy and other government agencies, and its intention to support the Shaffstall Corporation's media conversion system.

In making the product announcements, J. David Lyons, vice president and general manager, Information Systems Division, reiterated Data General's "open systems" commitment. "Data General currently offers CEO document interchange with Wang's word processing system, a link to the IBM PC Northern Telecom's Displayphone and has PBX connections with InterCom, United Technologies, Northern Telecom and Rolm," noted Lyons.

In another first, Data General announced an agreement with PacTel Communications Systems for the regional telephone operating company to offer the CEO system to a market area which includes more than one million businesses in California and Nevada. PacTel Communications Systems will also install CEO systems in its headquarters and sales offices in California.

Hewlett-Packard says its future office automation efforts will be based on systems integrating the HP 3000 computer, interactive office software and the HP 150 touchscreen personal computer, as well as a "second-generation" network, called HP AdvanceNet, that will provide links between HP and other vendors' computers. The HP 3000-based integrated systems, which the Palo Alto, California firm calls Personal Productivity Centers, will provide office professionals, support people and secretaries with work processing, personal file and calendar management, graphics, spreadsheet analysis and data processing.

"By tightly integrating the functions of personal computers, secretarial workstations, departmental computers and office software, we believe HP will fulfill a significant need in the marketplace," says Edward McCracken, general manager of HP's Business Development Group. "And we expect the market to be a significant one . . . close to $23 billion by 1988." Xerox Expands Ethernet Options

Xerox has increased the communications options of its Ethernet users with the introduction of its latest 8010 Star workstations. One of the new models, designed for use in remote locations, can transfer information to an Ethernet network via a PBX. Users now have three ways of achieving PBX and Ethernet network interoperability. Teletype-compatible terminals can already access Ethernet-based services via a PBX. In addition, multiple Ethernets may be interconnected via leased communications lines or through a PBX.

The remote Star workstation is intended for locations such as small branch offices that can't justify a complete Ethernet system. Previously, Star workstations operated only in a network configuration, connected to Ethernet. However, the new, low-cost version can use a dial-up line or PBX link to connect with an Ethernet installation, giving it all the functionality of the network version. Like its predecessor, the new Star features a two-page screen with a bit-mapped display for clarity and fine detail. It also comes with rigid and floppy disk drives and a mouse pointing device to control the cursor.

Xerox has also introduced a low-cost stand-alone version of Star for use as an entry-level workstation. It offers all the same features as the other models except those requiring on-line network services. If required, it can be upgraded to either a remote or network version. The stand-alone workstation costs $8,995 and a remote unit sells for $9,995. Xerox has also reduced the price of the network workstation from $15,055 to $9,995.

Last fall, Xerox introduced a large-display electronic spreadsheet for the Star workstation, along with Japanese and Russian language capability. It also unveiled a 42M-byte disk drive for increased information storage and a software enhancement that lets 8010 users employ a single network server for electronic printing, filing and mailing.

In October, the firm also debuted a desktop facsimile terminal that can communicate with computers and be integrated into office automation networks. With its built-in 9.6-kbps modem, the Telecopier 295 transmits a page in 30 seconds and is compatible with CCITT Group 3 machines. Through the optional RS-232-C port, users can link the facsimile transceiver with a wide variety of computerized office equipment from Xerox and other suppliers. For example, the 295 can receive ASCII data from various word processors, personal computers and computer systems, and output the data locally in hard-copy form or transmit it via telephone lines to other remote facsimile devices. The unit can also serve as a local graphics or character printer, a low-volume convenience copier or as a local input/output device to the host computer for scanning and printing graphic information.

A compatibility option for the Telecopier 295 allows it to communicate with all CCITT Group 1 and 2 analog facsimile terminals. The transceiver adjusts automatically to the speed of the sending or receiving unit and provides the recipient with printed message headings showing the time, date and terminal identification number on received copies. The 295 maintains an activity log for storting up to 25 separate message transactions and comes with a 30-page automatic document feeder for sending multiple pages. Another feature allows the 295 to check security codes when an automatic dialer is used to poll sending units. The 295 has a base price of $4,600, with an additional $700 for the RS-232-C interface option and $600 for the compatibility option.

Xerox has also moved to open Ethernet to IBM Personal Computers. Last May, Xerox joined with 3Com Corporation and VisiCorp in a project to provide users of IBM PCs equipped with VisiOn software with direct access to services on Ethernet. In addition, a new model of the new Xerox 2700 printer can interface with IBM's Systems Network Architecture (SNA), which means it can be used for printing with computers running under SNA. Xerox has also signed an agreement with Advanced Computer Communications of Santa Barbara, California for communications software products enabling the Xerox 8018 information systems and 1100 scientific information processor family to operate with Digital Equipment's VAX and PDP-11-based systems which use the VMS, RSX-11 and Unix operating systems. Wang Extends Network Features

Wang's Systems Networking (WSN) products are grouped under four major categories: transports, services, applications and management. Network transports are adaptable system-to-system connections that operate independently of WSN services and applications. Network services manage the exchange of information in a WSN information processing environment, while network applications are Wang system applications extended to run over the network to provide end-user functionality. Network management is accomplished through utilities that maintain, manage and control lines, devices, systems and applications tasks. (Additional details on WSN products will apeear in the Datacomm Update on Network Architectures in the June, 1984 issue of Communications News.)

Wang Office is a series of network-based software options which provide Wang systems users with time and task management, communications and information management tools. Wang Office comprises four major services:

* Office mail uses an "envelope concept" to provide electronic messaging and store-and-forward mail services, allowing users to send or receive packages of several items such as text, programs, data files and/or images. For example, users can route a research proposal or financial report and attach a cover memo explaining the rationale behind it. The people receiving this package can then add their comments and send it on in the review cycle.

* Office directory services supports the mail program with a comprehensive directory of users, speeding up communications flow.

* Office time management permits users to create "to do" lists and perform personalized calendar functions.

* Office file management operates like a traditional office filing system, allowing users to store and retrieve documents, messages and images in an indexed, easy-to-retrieve structure.

As part of its WSN strategy, Wang has also introduced a "pathway" between its VS systems and an IBM or IBM plug-compatible host over an IBM 3270 SNA or bisync network. Known as the Information Distribution System, the family of software products provides communications among VS systems through an IBM host, or, alternatively, communications between VS systems and the mainframe host in the form of a store-and-forward service.

"There are a number of Fortune 500 companies who have a substantial investment in an IBM network and Wang Office automation products," notes John Cunningham, Wang president and chief operating officer. "With IDS, these companies can now integrate their systems in a single communications network."

With the introduction of its PIC Professional Image Computer, Wang claims to be the first major office automation vendor to incorporate imaging technology as an office system product offering. Based on the Wang Professional Computer, the desktop PIC includes a camera-like scanner to digitize images from a sheet of paper, a high-resolution monitor and a thermal printer capable of printing the image. PIC image processing software allows users to scan, digitize, create, display, alter, merge with text, score, retrieve and transmit images. PIC can handle unstructured information that includes pictures, handwritten notes, margin notations on correspondence, and drawings, as well as text.

As the newest member of the Wang PC product line, the PIC is fully integrated and compatible with the firm's VS/IIS, VS/Alliance, OIS and Alliance systems. "Because PIC offers the ability to communicate information with images, as well as words, data and voice, it is the single most powerful and fully integrated office automation tool available today," claims Cunningham.

In its basic configuration, the PIC is priced at $14,965. Current users of the Wang PC may purchase PIC components separately at a cost of $750 for the image monitor, $1,250 for the image monitor controller, $3,500 for the image scanner, $1,000 for the image scanner controller and $1,500 for the image core software. The two-page-per-minute Wang thermal printer sells for $1,875, and the 12-page-per-minute Wang LIS-12 laser imaging system costs $26,000.

As a further service for its PIC users, Wang has added a fifth band of service to its WangNet broadband cable network intended for the direct connection of Wang PCs. The WangNet PC service band contains five channels for communications, each capable of supporting up to 2kk PCs. Datapoint Simplifies User Interface

Datapoint claims its Pro-Vista software "significantly increases the productivity of office workers and reduces the amount of training time required." It features a hierarchical interface called Vista-Guide, that enables a user to perform office automation activities in a step-by-step manner that corresponds to logical work flow order.

Vista-Guide provides a kind of software map that leads the non-technical user through various functional paths. Its graphic display presents a simplified directory of activities, which users select by cursor placement. This menu of activities appears in a continuum of columns on the screen. When the user selects from the first column, the screen scrolls horizontally to the next column, which lists a subset of activities. This enables a user to view all possible activity selections, current options and subsequent selections. To further simplify operation, the Vista-Guide menu can also be modified to include specific activities arranged by frequency of use or sequence of execution.

Pro-Vista also incorporates Datapoint's first electronic mail offering for users of its RMS operating system. Vista-Mail provides instant delivery to users on the local Arcnet; delivery to remote sites may be immediate or at designated delivery times. Vista-Mail provides for message routing and trackling and allows the user to transmit enclosure and body files, and use bulk mailing lits. Delivery information is provided automatically. Vista-Mail also includes a computer-aided instruction feature.

Datapoint has also enhanced word processing through Vista-Word, and increased the worksheet size on its Multiplan financial modeling package. Data communications software included in RMS II supports 2780, 3780, Hasp, 3270 bisync and SDLC protocols. Digital Gives Voice to Workstations

Digital strengthened its office automation offerings last October by introducing the DECmate office workstation, aimed at making tightly integrated word processing, personal computing and communications easily available to managers and professionals at all levels. When used with Digital's All-in-1 office and information system, the workstation becomes a "transparent window" to co-workers with DECmate or other Digital terminals, as well as data bases and applications throughout an organization.

A key feature of the workstation is Easycom, which condenses into a single command all the keystrokes and logic required to access a wide range of host systems and public data bases, and to begin running their specific applications. Also, the workstation features CP/M Version 2.0, which allows the merging of CP/M output from spreadsheets and other applications with word processing documents through the WPS Convert utility.

The All-in-1 office menu provides access to full-function word processing, electronic mail, office management capabilities such as calendar management and external data base access, and full integration with Digital's and stand-alone and distributed systems as well as other vendors' systems.

Digital's External Document Exchange software allows two-way document conversion between Wang's OIS and Digital's VAX systems, while its Bisynchronous Terminal Support (BTS) permits 3270-type synchronous terminals to connect directly to a VAX system. Through BTS, these terminals can develop programs and run any VAX application, including All-in-1. BTS also links synchronous terminals to an IBM mainframe through the VAX system, which appears transparent to the terminal user and host.

In addition, Digital has announced plans for an interface between its VAX/All-in-1 system and IBM's Distributed Office Support System (Disoss). This interface will support IBM's Document Interchange Architecture/Document Content Architecture, and will allow for bidirectional document and mail message exchange between users of All-in-1 and Disoss systems. Digital already offers an SNA Gateway to connect DECnet to IBM's networking architecture.

DECtalk is a voice synthesis product that transforms Ascii text into high-quality speech, with variable speaking rates from 120 to 350 words per minute and pronunciation and intonation control (see Communications News, February, 1984, page 109). Through DECtalk, Digital plans to allow users of its All-in-1 system to receive electronic mail messages by phone. Users will be able to call their offices and have DECtalk read documents and other information from their All-in-1 files. They will also be able to command DECtalk to pause, stop, resume or repeat what it reads, and even answer messages with a variety of standard replies.

Shawmut Bank of Boston is piloting DECtalk to provide account status and balance information to corporate customers who contract to receive such information. Also, MCI Communications will utilize DECtalk to allow customers of its MCI Mail to call up and have their electronic messages read to them by telephone. IBM Sets the Pace

IBM announced its office automation strategy in 1980 with a "statement of direction" which committed the firm to putting its range of office systems into a cohesive network so that users could create documents on one system, review and edit them on another, and then mail them to recipients on still other IBM systems. Last October, IBM made good on its commitment with a new version of Disoss, which can now operate on one or more host systems in a network, and enhancements to its host-based Profs office system. It also unveiled Systems Network Architecture Distribution Services (Snads), an extension of SNA which permits document distribution among the various systems, allowing documents to be sent to multiple locations in a network with a single request.

Working with Snads, Disoss Version 3.2 supports the exchange of letters, memos and other documents among IBM 8100, 5520 and Displaywriter office systems. It also extends Disoss support to the IBM 3270 product line, including the 3270-PC. In a further statement of direction, IBM committed to providing users of Disoss and Profs with the ability to exchange final-form documents, and also to support the DIA/DCA office systems architectures on the IBM System/38 processor.

IBM's 3270-PC costs $5,585 for a basic configuration, including a high-resolution color display and 3270-PC control program. It can simultaneously display information in seven windows defined by the user, providing a simpler way to look at and interact with computer information. The windows can be moved, just as a person moves papers on a desk. They can be made bigger or smaller, put on top for immediate attention, or temporarily hidden when not in use.

Information on the screen can be processed, printed or exchanged between windows and data can be transferred from a host computer and stored on a diskette for later processing in a PC session. Personal computer or host data can also be copied onto a notepad. The 3270-PC can be used to communicate via electronic mail, create and send data files through networks, obtain data from corporate data bases for local use by PC functions, or access data from public information networks. It communicates with the host via an IBM 3274 control unit.

The XT/370 is effectively three workstations in one; a standard IBM PC/XT, a Virtual Machine/Conversational Monitor System (VM/CMS) workstation, and an IBM 3277 display attached to a host computer. Users can transfer programs and information from a host to their XT/370 workstation, where they can create and edit files, compile and execute programs, and generate reports, sending the information back to the host computer. Capable of running most VM/CMS application programs unchanged, the XT/370 sells for $8,995, including a 10M-byte disk.

IBM's portable PC uses the same Intel 16-bit microprocessor found in the PC, PC/XT and PCJunior, and comes with a standard 9" amber monitor capable of displaying graphics and up to 25 80-character lines of text. It weighs about 30 pounds and comes in a 20" X 17" X 8" carrying case. With 256K bytes of user memory, a 360K-byte half-height disk drive, keyboard, carrying case and IBM's PC-DOS Release 2.1 operating system, its price is $2,795.

In the software arena, IBM has announced its own version of Unix for the PC, while a number of other vendors have targeted the PC with integrated software packages geared to the professional user. IBM's Personal Computer Interactive Executive (PC/IX) was developed by Interactive Systems based on Unix System III and will run on both the PC and PC/XT. Critics point out that PC/IX could possibly be incompatible with new versions of Unix such as the widely anticipated System VII and, in fact, could be replaced by future IBM products. It carries a relatively high one-time price of $900 and requires a minimum of 256K-byte memory and 10M bytes of hard disk. Twice that amount is recommended for multiple-tasking applications and the operating system cannot support multiple users.

Meanwhile, capitalizing on the popularity of the IBM PC, third-party software suppliers have developed a number of office automation tools, ranging from electronic spreadsheets and data base management programs to electronic mail and time management. Also, the IBM PC can now outperform the most powerful dedicated word processing systems thanks to software packages such as the Samna Word III recently introduced by Samna Corporation of Atlanta, Georgia.

"There is very little that the manufacturers of dedicated word processing systems can do now to protect their base of stand-alone products," notes Deborah Fain, Samna executive vice president. Industry analysts estimate that more than 500,000 dedicated word processing systems are currently installed. At an average price per system of approximately $15,000, this installed product base is worth in excess of $7.5 billion. Samna Word III costs $650 and runs on the PC, PC/XT and PC-compatibles, as well as Digital Equipment's Rainbow 100 and the Texas Instrument Professional Computer. Mainframers Target the Office

Honeywell has also introduced a Unixbased workstation, which utilizes a Motorola 68000 processor and runs the UniPlus operating system from UniSoft Corp. Last April, the firm unveiled its first microprocessor-based business system, the microSystem 6/10, which is fully compatible with the company's entire line of minicomputers, has extensive networking capabilities and also offers a personal computing option. The microSystem 6/10 contains the Honeywell 16-bit Micro 6, allowing it to run the wide range of applications and communications software used by the company's DPS 6 minicomputers. The system also offers a 16-bit Intel 8086 processor option that supports the MS-DOS and CP/M 86 operating systems.

Users in the different operating environments can combine the MS-DOS and Unix-based workstations into an integrated system using a DPS 6-based office management network. Acting as a departmental system, the DPS 6 provides an electronic mail base for communications between the Honeywell family of terminals and the Unix and MS-DOS workstations. In addition, the MS-DOS workstations can access the full complement of DPS 6 office functionality, including calendar, spreadsheet and word processing. Honeywell has also introduced a multi-user microprocessor-based system, the microSystem 6/20, and realigned its DPS 6 small systems line with three new models, the DPS 6/45, 75 and 95, which offer substantially greater price/performance than previous models.

Sperry has consolidated its Office Systems and Communications and Terminals operations under Stuart Miller, vice president, Office Information Systems. Last June, Miller introduced a new ergonomically designed multi-function workstation, the Model 30, for the Sperrylink office system, along with a low-profile diskette subsystem and an optional document reader.

Sperry's Distributed Office Processing Station Model 20 (DOPS/20) forms the hub of the Sperrylink office system and provides shared resources to a community of up to 15 Model 30 or 40 workstations. DOPS/20 can support a wide variety of office applications, including electronic mail, electronic filing and retrieval, administrative services and office communications. The basic workstation sells for $3,530. Among recent software introductions for Sperrylink are a spelling checker and a converter program allowing document compatibility with a number of non-Sperry word processors, including Wang and IBM machines.

Rival mainframers NCR and Burroughs also offer workstations for office automation applications. NCR's WorkSaver 100-series office automation systems are based on Convergent Technologies' AWS workstations; its WorkSaver-200 series utilize Convergent Technologies' IWS workstations. The WS-150 utilizes all the word and information processing software available on the other models and supports asynchronous TTY, bisyne 2780/3780 and 3270 communications. For business graphics applications, a package known as WorkGraph operates with the optional Multiplan spreadsheet software on the WS-200 models. Receiving statistical information from the Multiplan software, WorkGraph can produce line, bar, pie and combination charts of various sizes.

Burroughs' OFIS 1 office information system incorporates word processing, electronic filing, personal productivity tools and imaging systems. Its OFIS-writer 400 combines word processing with store-and-forward document distribution features. Also included in the product family are the OFISreader multifront page reader and the OFISfile electronic storage, retrieval and communications system. Data General's "Open Systems"

Data General followed through on its open systems strategy in 1983 with the introduction of several multivendor interfaces. In February, the firm introduced CEO Document Exchange Software which translates the format codes of documents produced on Wang word processing systems to those of Data General's CEO systems. At the same time, Data General and Northern Telecom, Inc. enhanced their products so that NTI's Displayphone could function as a CEO workstation for electronic mail, filing and calendar management.

In June, Data General announced the IBM Personal Computer interface which allows IBM PCs to access a CEO office network by having the PC appear as a CEO workstation. In addition, Data General introduced the CEO page reader, which lets Eclipse systems accept typed documents from optical character recognition devices from Compuscan and Dest Corporation. Finally, in November, Data General announced relationships with several PBX vendors, including Rolm, InteCom and United Technologies to enable CEO workstations and Desktop Generation systems to connect to Eclipse MV/family systems using PBXs. The Desktop Generation Model 10 and 20 computers are part of the firm's professional microcomputer family, which allows users to combine the CEO networking capabilities with personal computing power.

This year, Data General has announced a portable terminal interface allowing users of Ansi X3.64-compliant devices to access CEO systems remotely for electronic mail, electronic filing and administrative support. Data General's new telex interface, the CEO Document Exchange II, allows CEO users to send messages anywhere in the world from their workstation.

As for the standardized word processing document interface, this allows CEO users to send and receive word processing documents to and from other vendors' equipment. The so-called CEO Document Exchange III was originally designed with the United States Navy and other vendors to let users communicate and transfer files between certain word processing systems. Data General has also announced its intention to support Shaffstall's media conversion system, which will let users convert a document from one vendor's system to the format of another's. HP Addresses Departmental Needs

Hewlett-Packard sees the need for a departmental/workgroup computer to effectively manage a network of personal computers and office workstations handling a variety of applications. That's the idea behind its HP 3000-based Personal Productivity Center (PPC). A small PPC might consist of several HP 150 touchscreen personal computers used as managerial workstations, HP 2628 secretarial workstations, and HP 3000 business computer and office software. Larger PCCs could link more than 100 personal computers or workstations in a single HP 3000-based network.

According to Hewlett Packard's McCracken, the PCCs are expected to feature easy, plug-in expansion of the systems from one personal computer up to a network of departmental computers and mainframes, individual use of graphics and office software on the larger computers, integration of information and office functions between departments and among other computers, and the ability to tie together additional computers in larger networks. Ultimately the concept will give office professionals access to information from both local personal computers and remote computers through a choice of network links, including PBXs, local area networks, satellite and public data networks.

"Terminal emulation will be the primary means of access to the system, says McCracken, "with the HP 150 personal computer, for example, emulating a word processing workstation." By early next year, HP intends to support its HP Word as a stand-alone word processing package on the personal computer.

As part of its HP AdvanceNet announcement, the firm stated its intention to support IBM's Document Content Architecture and Document Interchange Architecture. HP also intends to support future automatic conversion between Wang and HP word processing files. In addition, HP will provide links between the HP 150 personal computer and other vendors' personal computers through an Ethernet-compatible local area network from 3Com of Mountain View, California. Ultimately, HP AdvanceNet will offer users a wide range of data communications products, including system-to-system, system-to-workstation and workstation-to-workstation communications. Networking across and within HP product lines and HP-to-IBM, DEC and other vendors' systems will be included. Exxon Adds Windows

Exxon Office Systems says it will support industry standards with its local area network offerings and expects to introduce Ethernet capability later this year. At the recent Office Automation Conference in Los Angeles, the Stamford, Connecticut firm unveiled its 750 professional workstation which features multiple windows for text editing, electronic spreadsheet and graphics work, and a dual architecture for running both 8- and 16-bit applications software. Users can move back and forth from text to numeric and graphic operations without changing programs. In addition, consistent interfaces and disk compatibility make it easier for users to work with both the Exxon 500 information processor and the 750 without additional training.

Currently, the Exxon 750 uses asynchronous communications, but 3270 emulation and bisync operation will be offered later in the year, along with support for MS-DOS. Prices for the workstation, with 10 M bytes of fixed disk, 600K-byte diskette and 512K-byte RAM storage begin at $7,750. When connected to the Unix-based Exxon 8400 controller, the workstations can send and receive messages via transparent electronic mail, and use time management to set up and maintain schedules and meetings. Users can do cross reference searches by author, file name, date created, key words or any combination of these methods. In the future, Exxon says it plans to provide compatibility with IBM Disoss, along with access to the Unix operating system facilities and general relational data base management.

Prime Computer also used the Office Automation Conference to display the latest version of its Office Automation System (OAS) software, along with its new Producer 100 desktop office workstation and the Prime 2250, which is designed for the office environment. Prime's OAS software combines electronic mail, word processing, appointment scheduling and electronic filing and retrieval into an integrated package. The Producer 100 workstation provides access to the Prime 50 Series applications and information, and combines document-oriented word processing with personal financial modeling using Multiplan. The Prime 2250, which is the Natick, Massachusetts firm's smallest processor, supports up to 32 interactive users and can serve as a departmental computer for office automation systems. Apple Packs the Classroom

A number of other firms targeted the Office Automation Conference to introduce new products or showcase their latest office automation offerings. Apple Computer used a most effective technique to illustrate the simplicity of its new MacIntosh computer. The Cupertino, California firm set up a classroom on the exhibit floor and equipped it with about 50 computers to give attendees a hands-on lesson on the MacIntosh's capabilities. The half-hour classes played to a full house throughout the three-day conference.

AES Data Corp. of Stamford, Connecticut unveiled a new line of word and information processing systems which it says is compatible in interface, operating systems and software functions to the installed base of five popular products from Lanier Business Products, which was acquired last year by Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Florida. According to President Hobart C. Kreigler, the AES Savin 7100 personal workstation interfaces with and operates all of the same software as Lanier's No Problem, Super No Problem and Typemaster 10 and 12. Likewise, the AES Savin 7200 office support system is disk-to-disk and software compatible with the Lanier Shared System II. "The reason," Kreigler explains, "is that since the No Problem introduction in 1977, most of Lanier's word and information processing systems have been manufactured by AES Data, Incorporated of Montreal, parent company of AES Data Corporation in the United States.

Syntrex debuted its Pisces high-performance office workstation, which permits concurrent tasking in its multiple windows. The Eatontown, New Jersey firm also introduced its IBM PC Connection, which allows the IBM PC or PC/XT to function as a stand-alone or system workstation with the Syntrex office system.

In January,

Syntrex completed Beta testing of its "no-fail" local area network, SynNet, and began customer deliveries. SynNet can support 30 Polaris or Gemini electronic filing cabinets, allowing up to 400 workstations to share access to over nine million pages of information.

Altertext of Boston, Massachusetts introduced an advanced protocol converter that permits direct exchange of text, codes and commands between previously incompatible word processors, typesetting equipment and computers. Virtually any combination of incompatible computer-based devices, including the IBM PC, Wang and Lanier word processors, and various other personal computers, can communicate simultaneously through the Alter-text Communicator, which is reportedly the only screen-based protocol converter that can read and write floppy disks used on personal computers.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Nelson Publishing
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Author:Edwards, M.
Publication:Communications News
Date:Apr 1, 1984
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